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Florida on a Tankful: Artist keeps father's legacy alive


UPDATED 10:46 AM ET JUL. 02, 2021 PUBLISHED 6:33 AM ET JUL. 02, 2021

“I come over here to Quail Run Golf Club, which is right across from my studio," Mathews said. 

He spends the day practicing his putting, and hopefully sinking one or two. It's days like that, that remind him of days spent on the green with his late father, Ray Mathews Sr.

“In the summers I'd go down to Western, Pa., where he used to live and he'd take me to some pretty interesting golf courses," Mathews said. 

However, golf was just a father and son hobby. Ray Matthews Sr.'s true calling was played on a different kind of green. 

“My dad played professional football for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1951 to 1959," Mathews said. 

Ray Mathews Sr., a halfback and tight end, was an early day legend for the Steelers, scoring an impressive 49 touchdowns during his career with the team. 

While Ray Mathews Jr. didn't follow in his father's athletic shoes, he did find success elsewhere in a more artistic field. He began a career in glass blowing as a young adult and is still practicing and teaching the craft today. 

Because of Mathew's busy art schedule, he hoped he could find a way to combine him and his father's shared love of golfing with his craft.

“I told my dad I have a ton of glass to get done this summer, not sure I can make it down to play with you. And in that moment his response was, 'Too bad you can't make golf clubs out of glass. Then a lightbulb went off and I picked up a paper weight and thought, 'You know I bet I could make that into a putter.'”

Toiling away in his home studio, he fired, glazed, and crafted different versions of what he'd later patent as the world's first and only glass putter. 

Ray Mathews Jr. even crafted one in his late father's memory, complete with the Steeler's colors, black and gold. He enjoys being able to keep his father's memory alive through the art of glass.

“I love being the son of Ray Mathews. I'm Ray Jr. I'll never change my name to just Ray Mathews,” he says. 

Ray Mathews Jr. has a studio in Naples where he offers glass blowing classes on the weekend. You can check out those classes and see what else he's up to. Just head to his website.


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